‘One size does not fit all’: How one alternative financing firm went beyond factoring

Toronto-based Liquid Capital Advance Corp. evolved into much more than a recourse factoring shop

Nearly six years back, Jonathan Brindley, founder of Toronto-based Liquid Capital Advance Corp., set out to develop a factoring company.

The goal was to create an entity that would provide small- and medium-sized businesses with the financial resources they needed to tide them over before their receivables were paid. “It’s an attractive business because factoring suits so many companies,” said Brindley, a chartered accountant turned entrepreneur, at the time.

In return for a small fee (in the two per cent to four per cent range), Liquid Capital would advance 75 per cent to 85 per cent of the face value of the receivable with the balance retained until the invoice was paid. Once the funds have been repaid they can be redeployed again. Ideally the goal is to recycle the funds every 30 to 90 days.

But Brindley’s business evolved into much more than a recourse factoring shop. It now defines itself as “a full-service working capital and trade finance company,” that also provides “asset-based lending, purchase order financing, inventory financing and equipment leasing.”

Click here to read the rest of the story published in the Financial Post.

Breakfast with the Boss Interview

I had the opportunity to be a guest on RVN TV’s program Breakfast with the Boss! with Scott Tanker. The interview allowed me to talk about my background before starting my Liquid Capital business, and how I help B2B companies that can’t get funding from banks. I discussed how they can leverage their accounts receivable to get working capital and the range of options we offer. Click here watch it.

Drawing lines between people icons

The 4 P’s of Outsourcing

Time is limited. I get that. You’d have to be a wizard with some kind of time-turning device to personally check all the boxes on an entrepreneur’s to-do list. And even if you could, why would you want to? This is a business, not a contest. Your objective should be to build the leanest, meanest, sustainable organization possible.

But cash is also limited, especially during the pre-launch phase, before you’ve issued and collected on your first invoice. What entrepreneurs need is a methodology for organizing to-dos, and for determining which are must dos, which should be outsourced, and which could be done at a later date, or not at all. My 4P method does that.

You may have heard of the Four “P”s of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Given my bias for action, my four Ps are verbs, not nouns, and represent a four-step process for successful outsourcing: Planning, Picking, Phasing In/Out, and Partnering.

Step 1 – Planning

In the first step we outline the basic structures you will need in your business for it to be functional. This is unique to every business, but there are some basic areas that are common to all – invoicing, selling, taxes, accounting, etc. Begin this “Planning” phase by listing all the bases that need to be covered in your business, for example:

  • Prospecting
  • Selling
  • Invoicing
  • Collections
  • Accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Finances
  • Payroll
  • Procurement
  • Industrial Design
  • Product development
  • Code writing
  • Hiring
  • Training
  • Writing
  • Publishing
  • Marketing communications
  • Digital marketing
  • IT
  • Delivery/Logistics
  • Warehouse management

Your list will be unique for your company or industry. But you will know what to include because these are all things you’re going to have to deal with in YOUR business.

Step 2 – Picking

The next step is the fun one. Here you will put the above items in an EXCEL spreadsheet and “Pick” the jobs you want to do by putting your name next to them. You should base your decisions on the following criteria:

  • What do you do best?
  • What do you like to do?
  • What do you not like to do?
  • What could you pay someone else to do cheaper?
  • And, what else could you do, in a pinch, if you had to?

I included the last one in recognition of the fact that resources are limited and you may need to do certain things you may not want to do in the best interest of your company, until you have enough cash coming in to hand off to someone else. Assign ownership to these tasks using three distinct labels:

Step 3 – Phasing in/out

Megatons of thrust are required for a rocket to break free of Earth’s atmosphere. But once the rocket is in orbit, the fuel tanks and similar dead weight are cast off so that the rocket can maneuver more nimbly. Similarly, there are processes required at the launch of a business that are no longer necessary once the business is up and running. The third “P” pertains to “Phasing” tasks in and out, and could also reasonably be called “Pruning.” For this step, add two more columns to your spreadsheet. Label the first column, “6 months,” and the second, “1 year.”

In these columns you will demarcate items you plan to bring in house, consolidate with other activities, or eliminate because they are no longer necessary. This is a discipline that even some of the world’s biggest companies struggle to master, but it critical if you want your business to remain competitive.

Step 4 – Partnering

The fourth and final P is Partnering. This is where you identify strategic third-party relationships that will add measurable value to your business by:

  • Providing capabilities or services you would not otherwise be able to offer
  • Filling a critical skills or talent gap
  • Partnering with other small businesses to share the cost of non-core services and infrastructure
  • Sharing office space, administrative personnel, Internet access, and IT infrastructure, with other businesses.

This is, by no means, a comprehensive list. Your list will reflect the needs and profile of your business.

By using the four Ps, you can plan to do only those things you like, you´re good at, and to which you add value within the realm of your company. You can identify processes you’d like to bring in-house, consolidate, or eliminate, and look for ways to share costs and resources with others through strategic and value-added partnerships. And you can outsource within the limitations of cash flow and budget.

A man looking at a wall board

Taking That Leap of Faith

Shortly after I decided to go into business for myself and was in the initial phases of doing a start-up of my own, I began the process of telling a few close friends and family members of my plans. This, of course, included my mother who, after a few moments of quiet consideration, said, “Why don’t you apply for a good job at a bank?”

Like many women of her generation, my mother did not have the benefit of pursuing a formal education. That’s not to say she’s not a sharp lady. Quite the contrary. Seven decades of wisdom from life experiences coupled to her devotion to Bible studies, daily doses of Oprah, Suze Orman, and most recently, Shark Tank, have all helped shape even further her discerning mind.

Mom comes from a generation where people might spend their entire career with the same company. Someone might occasionally inherit a family business, but people in her circles didn’t go around starting businesses from scratch. It was risky, she said — like swimming less than an hour after eating a meal. And risk was a bad word in my neighborhood.

I was raised to believe that mothers are always right, so imagine my surprise upon learning she was wrong about post-meal swimming. But mom was absolutely right about start-ups. The Small Business Administration reports that about one-third of businesses with employees fail within two years of start-up, with only half surviving more than five years. With stats like that, why wouldn’t you run to the nearest corporate gig that offered a regular paycheck, predictable hours, and benefits?

You have your reasons. And I’m guessing they’re a lot like mine. There’s something about you that makes you want to run your own show.

You have a dream. Maybe it’s a new dream, inspired by a new technology or invention; or maybe you’ve had this dream your whole life and have just been waiting for the right moment to take a leap of faith. You want to bake the world’s best cupcakes, craft beautiful furniture out of reclaimed wood, or distribute a perfect new blend of exotic fish food. You’d like to spend your days running the very best Cuban bakery, dry-cleaning shop, landscaping company, cardboard manufacturer, barbecue sauce bottling plant, uniform supply company, or flooring distributorship that your town has ever seen.

You may never achieve the epic success of Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. But who’s to say that you won’t?

I have a dream as well, and that is to be here for you, as your Success Factor, advising, coaching and encouraging you — in print, online, and in person, through my webinars and personal appearances — sharing my lifetime of experiences with you, so that you won’t have to take this journey alone.

So be courageous; believe in yourself and your dream; and you will successfully mount a company with a specific product or service that is uniquely and distinctly yours.

Hold on tight. You’re in for the ride of your life.

How Lending Fees and Terms Matter – Part One

Not all alternative or asset-based lenders are equal.  Our industry relies on high quality referrals and for that reason it is imperative that referral partners and prospective clients themselves become familiar with the terms and fees that make each alternative lender different.  Appearances might be very misleading.

Terms, fees and responsiveness are generally the most relevant aspects of the relationship between us and our clients.  As their funding partner, clients rely on our ability to support their growth, seize new opportunities, cover immediate financial needs and sometimes provide a life line.  We take these relationships very seriously and so should our referral partners and prospective clients, therefore we will cover some of the key elements regarding alternative business lending terms and fees.

Pricing is often a top concern for our clients whether they are interested in asset-based lending, factoring of AR, PO and inventory financing, equipment financing or leasing.  Unfortunately, the apparent “ticket price” is very frequently misleading.  Many alternative lenders have a number of different fees, some are disclosed at closing when everyone is rushing to get funding done.  Even worse, fees are frequently hidden in sophisticated lawyerly language that hardly anyone can understand.

Fees are generally split in 3 phases, at the time of application, during the relationship and upon termination.  Application fees normally include origination, underwriting, legal and sometimes appraisal and/or audit fees.  Only occasionally these are waived as they cover actual costs incurred.  However, I have seen these range significantly between lenders.  Application fees must be fully discussed prior to any engagement as they can get very expensive.

Fees charged during the relationship may include processing, discount, cost of funds, delays, misdirection, missing information, funds employed, anniversary, wire and the list goes on and on.  Some of these fees could be considered hidden and can be extremely confusing to the client.  To make it worse, these may be unexpected causing cash flow problems as well as complicating budgeting and planning.  Unfortunately, these fees can stack on top of each other and may be assessed with little to no transparency to the client.  Some fees can also be affected by floating days, or may apply in blocks of days rather than daily.

Termination fees may be assessed too.  These apply when the lender offers a facility with a minimum term period and the client wants to terminate it earlier.  Business owners and referral sources should be very cautious with these fees, particularly in situations when the company is planning on moving on to conventional lending.  Unfortunately, I have seen termination fees that are extremely onerous, up to 40% of the yearly fees incurred.  Sometimes the lender rolls the termination date indefinitely, locking the client in the relationship and thwarting its transition.

I hope you learned something valuable today.  In the next edition we will cover what terms should be carefully looked at when comparing alternative lending options.

Illustration

Do like the Gov – Follow these Best Practices in Crisis management as shown by Florida Gov. Rick Scott

In the days leading up to Hurricane Irma’s arrival and subsequent to its landfall, Florida Governor Rick Scott gave the world and especially those of us who live in the state, a brilliant display of leadership as he commanded and corralled government and local forces to prepare for the potentially catastrophic arrival of the storm to Florida. Scott will certainly go down in state history for how aptly he handled the situation, and in the process, saving thousands of lives, millions of dollars, and significantly reducing potential damage to residences and commercial properties, and to the State as a whole. If you and your business ever find yourself in a crisis situation, you would be well advised to follow the best practices demonstrated by Gov. Scott, to mitigate risk and reduce potential damage to you and/or your business, in the event of an expected crisis.

Faced with a crisis in your business, “do like the Gov” and follow Rick Scott’s outstanding examples of leadership by doing these three things:

1. Get out in front early, step up and take charge – at least one week leading up to the predicted landfall on the Florida peninsula, Gov. Scott began holding multiple daily press conferences, warning state residents to get into “Hurricane Mode” – and begin stocking up with water, food staples, emergency lighting, boarding up homes and commercial properties, and even laying out evacuation plans for areas to be hit by the storm. He stepped up early and took charge, 1st by declaring a state of emergency, and then by marshaling federal, state, local and even private entities like the Red Cross, to begin making plans for the arrival and the subsequent damages a Category 5 (at the time) hurricane posed to his state. As a result of his efforts he saved thousands of lives and reduced dramatically potential damages to the state, its residents and their businesses. In your business, the moment you identify a potential crisis, whether it be related to product, a customer, your finances, a PR situation, or whatever it may be, follow the Governor’s great example and get out in front of it early, stepping up and taking charge and by doing so, proactively manage your responses, and those of your teams and key decision makers, to take immediate and decisive action – and do it early.

2. Communicate – constantly, and most importantly, consistently.  In the days leading up to the storm, Gov. Scott was constantly seen on local and national television, communicating the exact same message – he talked about the most important perils of the hurricane, namely storm surge, wind damage, and flooding. All the while making comparisons to Hurricane Andrew, another Category 5 Florida Hurricane which hit doing massive damage passing directly over the city of Homestead in Miami-Dade County, destroying more than 60,000 houses, damaging another 124,000, killing 65 people and leaving in its wake more than $26 billion in damages in 1992. He did this in an attempt to create a precedent for the full understanding of the potential severity of this storm to Florida residents. He showed images of the destruction created by Andrew with the hope of reinforcing the life-threatening situations Floridians who failed to heed his warnings would be facing. But most importantly, Gov. Scott communicated the exact message, over and over again, multiple times a day, so that all residents understood the full extent of the potential damages of this storm. He outlined options – from evacuation plans for areas most likely to be hit the storm as sell as low lying areas susceptible to storm surge, to “Hurricane Preparedness” for residents to guarantee they had the essentials of food and water in the case of extended power outages. Gov. Scott was a true champion in that his message was always the same – he stressed taking the situation seriously, following directions – even if that meant evacuating your home – to avoid further casualties, and he stressed “get ready”. His message was clear, focused, consistent, and constant. No one in the state of Florida had the excuse to not be warned nor be ready for the impending storm.

In your business when faced with a crisis, handle it like Gov. Scott – communicate frequently, openly, and repeatedly, to all the most important constituencies in your company. Make sure your message is consistent – and provide updates as the situation unfolds. People need to be informed, and will generally act responsibly and intelligently if given the information they need to govern their own decision-making.

3. Shoulder up adequate resources to meet immediate and changing needs of key groups – Responding to the threat, preparing for the arrival, and organizing the recovery from the damage a hurricane the likes of Irma causes is nothing short of a massive undertaking! It takes the coordinated effort of hundreds of organizations ranging from Federal, state and local governments, local law enforcement, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), local and national broadcasters, emergency response teams, utility service providers, retail establishments, schools, hospitals, non-profit organizations, etc. the list goes on and on.

But the key point, and illustrated so brilliantly by Gov. Scott, was that he went to great lengths to involve any and all organizations critical to providing the services that would be required in the aftermath of a hurricane.  In nearly all his press conferences, he could be seen surrounded by the different groups that would be involved in providing help and services after the hurricane struck – the national guard, local police organizations, the Red Cross, the emergency response headquarters set up in major cities like Tampa or Miami. He was a master of shouldering up all the critical resources to making sure recovery would happen as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

In a similar manner, when faced with a crisis in your business, make sure you know who to call and what resources you will need to manage the risk created by the crisis. This will require some advanced planning on your part, and will also involve asking some tough questions related to potentially difficult situations, like anything ranging from an unexpected death, employee harassment or firing, lawsuit, bankruptcy, or product recall. But do your homework upfront, and make sure you have all the necessary resources to weather the storm and clean up in its aftermath.

Go here to see Governor Scott in action…

Florida Governor Discusses Irma Preparations

Banner

Thrive! Small Business Convention

Liquid Capital Funding Solutions (LCFS) is excited to be exhibiting at this year’s Thrive!  This is the annual small business convention for the Arizona Small Business Association. Stop by our booth, say hello, and let’s discuss how we can help your business prosper.

Date: October 12, 2017
Time: 12:30pm – 6:00pm
Where: Events on Jackson
245 E. Jackson St.
Phoenix, Az., 85004

Click here to register.

This will be a great opportunity to collaborate with other businesses. Bring plenty of business cards.

Additional Events for LCFS:

  • May 8th 2018 – Jeromy Cushing will be presenting at the Corporate Companion Speaker Series hosted by Keystone Business Consulting, LLC
  • More to come!
Folders

Plan for the Unpredictable

In my book “The Success Factor” I share with readers how important it is to “Plan for the Unpredictable” as a means of insulating your small business or start-up from the perils of the unexpected. We are witnessing daily the importance of this notion as we watch the horrors of Hurricane Harvey play out in the Gulf coast region of Texas.

It is human nature and so very common to put things off and not plan adequately. Your reasons can go from not really wanting to face-up to the unexpected and ask the hard questions, to the basic “nah….it won’t ever happen to me” However, in the advent that it does, what do you do now?

To avoid this, or at least diminish its potential repercussions on your small business, why not begin by asking yourself “what have I been putting off”? that really needs to be addressed to provide you, your business, and your family, protection from the “unpredictable”?

Start with the basics: insurance. Do you have the adequate life, disability, liability, and workman’s comp coverage to protect you, your business, employees, and family? When examining your particular business, do you have key man insurance, or alternatively D&O (Directors and Officers) insurance to cover certain fiduciary risks you may be exposed to?

Does your small business or family business have a Succession Plan spelled out in the Operating Agreement of your LLC, on how to handle ownership and management succession in the case of your unexpected departure?

In your personal life, in the event of a loss, do you have a Will & Testament, or Estate Plan, spelling out how and who will manage the disposition of your assets, both personal and business, in your absence?

Or at a more simple and business opportunity level, are your Financials (Balance Sheet, P&L, Tax returns) up to date so you can get needed financing when unplanned business opportunities present themselves? I am always shocked when I talk to new or current clients and it is well past mid-year and their previous year Corporate returns are still not done? How can any lender begin assessing their creditworthiness to leverage unexpected business opportunities without last year’s return? This is simply bad planning and shows they’re ill prepared to take their business to the next level. Financing alternatives need to be in place…in case you need them – like now, in the case of the emergencies prompted by Hurricane Harvey, or alternatively, when a new, unforeseen opportunity presents itself.

The notion of “planning for the unpredictable” is one of the many examples of “unconventional wisdom” I detail in my book, and if you want to learn more please contact me directly, or visit me at www.successfactormedia.com and purchase your copy of the “The Success Factor – Unconventional Wisdom for Small Business Success” published by Morgan James Publishing.

Application Rejected image

WHERE TO TURN WHEN THE BANK SAYS NO – THE RISE OF ALTERNATIVE FINANCING PRODUCTS

Asset-based lending and other alternative finance products like P.O. financing and factoring are available when conventional financing is unattainable. If you are a small to medium sized business and have a need for a Line of Credit from $250,000 to $15 million and the bank says no, Bob Blades, Principal of Liquid Capital Corporate Finance Inc., is the type of person who may be able to provide assistance.

Click here to read more.

Join us at the West Valley B2B Expo on August 24th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liquid Capital Funding Solutions (LCFS) is excited to be exhibiting at this year’s West Valley B2B Expo! Stop by our booth, say hello, and let’s discuss how we can help your business prosper.

The 2017 West Valley Business to Business Expo is being held at the Glendale Civic Center – 5750 W Glenn Drive, Glendale, AZ 85301, on August 24th, from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. Come visit the largest B2B event of the year covering the entire west valley. This event is hosted by all 5 west valley Chambers.

Attendance is free. This will be a great opportunity to collaborate with other businesses. Bring plenty of business cards.

Additional Events for LCFS:

  • Oct. 12th, 2017 – Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) THRIVE business expo.  
  • May 8th 2018 – Jeromy Cushing will be presenting at the Corporate Companion Speaker Series hosted by Keystone Business Consulting, LLC
  • More to come!